Focus


What is your focus on today? During these days of slowing down and coming close in your homes we have time, finally, to get “unbusy”… We have been forced to halt and stop what has become our normal.



I love the unbusy… I love the slow. For me it means we get to focus on relationship better. I see so much hope for families and spouses reconnecting during this time.


At the same time I know that a lot is up in the air, and many are scared about many things. When the unknown hits, when tragedy hits the world or your own small world it can be so easy to focus on what we’ve lost versus what we’ve gained. It can be easy to focus on the chaos of fear.


But today I say, focus on hope. Focus on every hour kissing the faces of your kids, hug your spouse extra long… Go out of your way today to love those around you bigger and better than the day before. If you know cleaning the toilet would make someone happy and feel loved then clean that toilet. If it means making coffee and sitting down just to be close and that is what fills someone’s love cup, then get to it!


In the time where things keep getting banned, sickness takes over and grief of your normal sets in– turn to hope. Hope helps you see the many opportunities before you now.

Focus on what is good. Philippians 4:8

The Gaping Hole

Eternity in our heart

This morning I woke up from a dream with my Mom as real as could be. In the dream it was Christmas time and she was exchanging gifts with my Dad oblivious to the fact of the turmoil we had all gone through before she returned. It was such a dream that when I woke up I was actually upset. I remember asking her why she thought that leaving like she did to make us believe she was dead was a good idea. I remember telling her I was shocked to see her in person and I did not know whether to believe that she was real. All this time, my Mom and Dad thought that everything was normal.


I do not describe this dream to you simply for the sake of sharing it. There have been multiple times in the past week where the hole that my Mom left when she went home to heaven ached with the longing of her. Dreams like this as well as moments of grief have reminded me of the hole she left. It hit me further just how much no one and no thing could ever fill that spot she had in my heart, ever again. No matter what, a piece of me is forever missing.


But the beautiful thing about God is that like all holes in our hearts, he longs to fill them. No new health regime, no new drug, no new person, no new season of life, no new family member, nothing, absolutely nothing will ever fill that hole on our own. We all have holes in our hearts. Any hole is never intended for anything other than God.


We can try to replicate the feelings that we sometimes experience when we have the feel good encounters with Jesus. We can try to replicate the happy memories of the person long gone. We can try to replicate the feeling of just being content and happy with drugs, sex, and high success in life but none of that will last. It will not last because unless it is God, everything else is just a fake representation of what is our inheritance through Jesus Christ.


As my heart has ached with what has felt like a huge gaping hole at times, I have run to Jesus and fallen into his arms. When I have asked him to take away the ache he has helped soothe my soul. But there is still this longing and yearning. I have asked God about this. I have pondered it, chewed on it, and sought the scriptures. Then one day it clicked for me. Earth is temporary. Earth is not my home. Heaven is. So why on earth would I expect to never long or yearn for the things of Heaven, of eternity? I am homesick for a place that is part of my inheritance. It is a natural longing. It is a longing God placed inside us to remind us that what we experience here on earth is temporary and we must think eternal!


The connection that I experienced with my Mom was one that was a taste of heaven. It was intended to remind me who God is. It was intended to remind me that every second on earth counts and has eternal consequences. Am I being a good steward of my life and gifts? Am I doing all I can to love others and lead them to Jesus in all aspects of my life? What I portray through word and deed am I portraying him?


If you feel an ache for more, if you feel the longing for someone or something, remember that it is always for God. Some of these longings are so intense that we do all we can to fill them. Always choose to go to God. Do not be satisfied with anything other than him, even if it means making drastic changes to your life to spend hours with him everyday. Spiritual discipline is literally the best medicine. Get up earlier, take 15-minute breaks at work to read the Bible and pray. Make praying with your family a priority. Pursue Jesus. Make him a priority over anything else. Choose Jesus in everything. When you do this, you will make him famous. When you do this, you will think eternally and live your life in full abandon to him. When you do this, you are choosing love; you are choosing joy.


The feeling of happiness comes and goes. Love remains. When you have Love, choosing joy becomes easier because it is not about you anymore. Choosing joy comes from the times you spend with Jesus. When you choose him, the dirty things will naturally be sifted from the heart to help get rid of anything that hinders us from growing deeper with him. Sometimes our struggles come from a natural sifting of the heart because God wants to cleanse us of all things that keep us from diving deeper into his heart for us. He wants to dispel lies sown into our beings from years of struggles. He wants to be your only love, only desire, only joy because all good things flow from his blood.


If you feel the ache, turn to Jesus. If you have a hole that needs filled, choose Jesus. Our entire hearts are intended for God. He made us this way. He placed the longing for him in our hearts to reveal just a tiny bit of how much he longs for us. His love is the best medicine for any aching heart and body.


What will you choose to fill your heart? What will you choose for eternity?


Ecclesiastes 3:11

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”

The Journey I Started One Year Ago

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WordPress just announced to me that it is my one-year anniversary since starting to blog on their site. As I reflect on the year where I decided to not allow silence to dictate my life, and instead use the gift of writing God has given me, I see how silence would have been deadly. The enemy tried to steal my voice once. I have the choice to use my voice several different ways. Writing is one of those ways.


When I decided to open myself up and allow others to be a part of my journey of grieving, I never knew the onslaught that would occur. As I wrote it made some people very upset. Still to this day, when I write as God leads, fearlessly writing truth, it upsets and irritates people. I understand that not everyone is going to agree with what I say nor does everyone believe that God works the way that I profess. Despite the venomous words, the attack on my integrity and faith, and the rejection, I have chosen to not be silenced.


I once allowed silence and the fear of not pleasing certain people dictate my every move. That life was horrible. I was caged in. But I was like a songbird longing to sing and take flight. It took several years for God to show me that he had unlocked the cage and it was my choice to get up and walk out of it. He helped me to pick up his sword of truth and take back from the enemy what he had stolen. Ever since that day, God has been bringing me into places of renewed freedom and victory.


By choosing God daily and choosing to use my voice so many other people have been encouraged. Thank you dear readers for letting me know that my journey written out has helped you. Thank you for letting me know that I was not alone. Thank you to those who desired to bless me rather than curse me.


We all have choices to make. I have seen how bitterness causes such destruction. My heart aches for you that have chosen this path. Love will always be waiting with open arms to welcome you back when you so choose it.


In the meantime, be brave dear readers. Do not let fear of what others may think silence you sharing your story. Your story is powerful. Your story is important. You matter so much more than you may ever fully realize.


You can choose to allow God to make something beautiful out of your messy life. After all, the dirty grave did not bother him at all. He is ready to resurrect the dead in your life.


Choose Him. Choose beauty.

Life Is Simply Beautiful With God

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Today is Mom’s birthday.


This year I actually was looking forward to the day because of what the Lord has been doing in my heart. It is hard to describe but the best word I can use is FREEDOM.


With the death of my Mom, God has used it to bring peace and healing to so many different parts of my heart. He still is working amazing healing in me. I know that my Mom is incredibly happy and proud, especially since in Heaven truth comes to light and all things hidden or murky are revealed. I am so thankful she knows and is proud of me!


There is no greater feeling than to have things reconciled within your own heart despite the unreconciled circumstances surrounding you. That is the beautiful thing about God. His peace and healing is unlike anything in the entire world.

There are still days where the void seems much too large and I crawl into the arms of God just to weep. I know this will be a continual process but there is also beauty along the journey.


Life is simply beautiful with God.

Embrace the Onion Layers!

As I am watching a chick flick today I am reminded of many things that I miss.


 

I miss watching chick flicks with my Mom and my sister. I miss girls shopping days. There was never something so fun to recharge with coffee and pick out the perfect outfit. It took me several months after Mom passed before I was able to walk through the mall without tears rolling down my eyes. I had already worked through grieving our third person  prior to Mom passing but then to have both gone was a complete devastation to me. There are still moments I get misty eyed.


 

I miss enjoying the perfect cup of coffee with a freshly baked scone. I miss talking about life, family, and God. I miss her smile, her laugh and her hugs. I miss her encouragement, her perfectly timed words to usher in a reminder that God was always in control.


 

There are so many things that I miss. She or someone else like her will never fill the void again. As life continues on, the new people, the new changes right now enhance the void. It will take time but I know that these are all good things.


 

I have learned that grieving and healing has layers, much like an onion. It is a process and there are moments of relief when it feels like you have worked through many different things. Soon after this, God works deeper and helps you work on more. God loves to restore, reconcile and heal everyone. But we must be willing to continue to persevere through each layer. I could choose to stop right here and stay where I am, doing my best to ignore his voice to work through the process. To be honest, that never works and only causes more harm than good. It creates an infection and a bigger mess to be dealt with later.


 

As a kid I hated onions. I could find the tiniest onion in my food and dislike the entire bite in my mouth. But I have come to enjoy onions more. I might get more indigestion and some bad breath every now and then but onions enhance flavors. Onions bring out the best in the food. Onions are also very good for you, and have been known to help reduce inflammation and fight off infection.


 

So dear readers, embrace the onion layers! I know that it can hurt. I know that it can even take your breath away. But it is always worth it.

Today…

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(Picture above is a screen shot of Moms Facebook page)


This time last year, our family was preparing for the celebration of life service for our Mom. That day was interesting, and exhausting.

Today, I have a mingling of feelings and I cannot seem to decide which one to remain in. A part of me wants to go to my Moms grave and just weep. But another part of me wants to enjoy the day, celebrate those in my life, and go buy flowers! I want to eat pie. I know that technically I can do all of these in one day but for whatever reason going to my Moms grave seems to be the hardest. I have bounced back and forth, having feelings of guilt for not wanting to make the drive by myself or even with my husband. For now, let me share with you what I spoke at her celebration of life service. This is completely unedited as it was written the night before and under heavy grief and exhaustion.


My Mom was an extraordinary, beautiful woman. She loved deeply, was passionate about life, never let her battle with Lupus define her, and wanted to please God in everything. She desired reconciliation of certain relationships, strove for love and peace in her home, and wanted the best for each of us.

As her children, we got to see her love us unconditionally. We saw her cry over the brokenness of others and witnessed beauty in its purest form. Some of my fondest memories are of her sharing scriptures with me. Isaiah 41:10 was one of the first ones she taught me when I was scared at night. She was the one to lead me to Christ at her bedside when I was 7. I remember her praying for me, and letting me know that God held me in my heartache.

Our family vacations were never dull and when things got rough, she was one that would try to find something to cheer us up. I will miss her laugh. Her smile. I will miss the ways that she lovingly cared for each of us. But she showed me how to love God and how to love people. She showed me how to be a Mom and now I get to pass that love on to my daughter, whom she also treated just as one of her grandchildren. Not everyone accepted my daughter as a part of our family but my Mom did and I can tell you that my daughter will never forget her because of that.

I am thankful for a Father who loved our Mom and a Mom who loved our Father. They made sure we knew about it. Often we would find them kissing in the kitchen or making up after arguing over the salt and pepper shaker. My parents were in everything for the long haul and that definitely included ministry. Every ministry decision Mom would do with her whole heart and she was excited to worship God in that way. On the same note, my Dad allowed my Mom to serve and he did an excellent job uplifting her into those different roles. We witnessed our parents go through the hardships involved with ministry. Through it all, we learned how harmful sin could be. How it can penetrate and scar the Lord’s most faithful servants. The most beautiful things that I can say occurred from those scars was the grace and forgiveness my Mom extended to so many. She may have been deeply hurt and beaten but she loved you anyway. She was able to do that because Jesus had done the same for her.

She would not complain about the pain that she was in, nor describe the list of health issues that she knew would eventually end her life. She did not let her illness define her. She never used it as a crutch. If anything, it gave her more determination to serve God more and more each day by loving others as God loves everyone. This was one of the reasons why she and my Dad served in Dominica these last several months. When there was a need she would fulfill that need. When God said, Go to Dominica, she was ready to lay her life on the line. She served with everything within her. She was willing to give all because you were worth the sacrifice. Each of you were worth the sacrifice because she understood how much God loved each of you. She was willing to give her life just so that you would know that. She was willing to give her life because Jesus gave His for her. He brought healing to her mind, her heart, and her soul. She understood what it meant to love Jesus.

I can stand here as a proud daughter of an amazing Mom, confidant, and friend. She showed us what the scripture in Mathew 16:24 states, “ Then Jesus said to his disciples, If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” Let me ask you this. What selfish ways do you need to give up today? What legacy do you want to leave behind? My Mom died giving her all for others. She died ultimately giving her all for her Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, leaving a legacy of such beauty of God’s deep love for us. She loved Jesus. She loved you. And she would want you to know that God loves you so much more.

Gods Love Never Fails. The Year Mark

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I have found myself smiling and laughing a lot more these days. Life is a beautiful journey. Words cannot begin to adequately express the gratitude within my heart that God has answered so many prayers in this new journey that we are on. We persevered through a very hard, tumultuous season and it was worth it all.


The year mark has begun. Before I go on further, let me first say how good God has been and continues to be. He has carried us and given us strength. He has helped us through all of the heartache and given us many times full of joy. His joy is our strength and because of his strength, we have joy.


Today, July 27th marks the day that Mom had her stroke. My Dad had sent me a message on Facebook asking for us to pray for them as he thought that Mom had a stroke in their hotel room. I remember telling my younger brother and my sis in love what had happened, since they were over at our house for lunch. Instantly, we stopped what we were doing. It was a time of devastation. A time that we all had dreaded might come someday, yet it felt too soon. I can recall my sis in love come around us and say a few words. I cannot recall what she said. I can only remember that I was impressed by her and was thankful that she was there. We agreed to get a hold of family members as a team. And we prayed.


This time last year we were anxiously awaiting word on how things were going. Our only form of communication was Facebook messenger. This time last year marked a beginning of sleepless nights, checking our phones for any news and updates and praying unceasingly. We had to wait hours and hours before getting our next update. This was incredibly difficult for me. I am assuming it was for everyone else. Sleep was hard to come by and I was worried I would not hear my phone beep with the next update.


Looking back, I am thankful that I was able to see God’s hand working out special details just for us, while things were happening. My younger brother just happened to be over at our house when I got the message. God knew we needed to be in person with each other for that news.  It was a miracle that Dad was able to get Mom back into the states since the doctor’s on the island did not want to send her further than the neighboring island. He had to convince the doctors on the island that Lupus was real and how serious it was. They did not even have her on the proper medication to help with the pain she experienced before her stroke, so her body was going through a lot of trauma. Our Dad fought a battle for her. He was persistent. I am thankful that God gave him the strength to be able to do this. I am thankful that the last moments that Mom was aware of things that they were able to communicate last words of love for each other and for us, even though she was unable to speak. Love does not need words.


I am thankful for the ones that helped pay for all of our flight tickets within hours of finding out that the doctor in Florida had told our Dad to get the family there as soon as possible. I am thankful for the church family that helped our Dad in Florida, especially when we could not be there. I am thankful for a sis in love who let us use her credit card so that we could get our tickets and then pay her back later. Then after we had been making payments, my other sis in love had helped pitch in money as well. I am thankful for the other people who also contributed to the rest of the family to fly out and have money for food. When a crisis like this hits, and there is no human way of things working out, and God uses others to help, neither words nor actions are adequate enough to show our gratefulness.


I am thankful that because Mom was flown to Florida, each of us was able to make it to her side. We were also able to be in person for a time with our incredible Dad who went through the first couple of days alone without any belongings on him. It was hard to leave him there for the last several days before Mom passed. I like to believe that God wanted special moments with our Dad even though in my mind, it was brutally hard to know that we could not be there to support him.


The hardest part now is working through the first year mark, which has presented itself to be difficult as expected. I know that everyone grieves differently. Because I have a tendency to be a perfectionist I can look at my own journey and feel like I am not doing it well enough. As I write this I can laugh at how ridiculous this is. The past year has been filled with much loss, much change, unfair expectations weeks after burying my Mom, betrayal from those who were supposed to support us, disappointment that a death of someone so close would not cause reconciliation, death of a family unit, death of who we once were, new family, church merge, job change, and a move to name a few.


As I reflect I realize how ridiculous it is to put expectations on myself that I should not be struggling right now. A lot has gone on. God is still healing me. I am thankful to say that I harbor no anger or ill feelings from the past year. I struggle more with trusting people. I struggle to trust that when someone tells me something loving and supportive that they actually mean it and will not go back on their word. But God is helping me with this. I am certainly not perfect. God’s goodness and love never changes. He is trustworthy.


Through it all, Gods love has overwhelmed us. As each wave crashed over us, his love consumed our hearts. He loves us so much.


He loves you! Our Mom, died giving everything within her so that others would know how much God loves them. It is my belief that the prayers she prayed for so many are being answered still today.


God is for you. He loves you! No matter what happens in our lives Gods love never fails.


Romans 8:35-39

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.